Thursday, February 21, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

I wish I had written this response to Zero Dark Thirty sooner. We saw this movie in January, and I read multiple articles afterward and had a multitude of thoughts about it, but never got them down. So this is going to be all over the place. With the approach of the Academy Awards this weekend, it was time...

I had a really hard time with this movie. Mostly because I found that I really enjoyed it. I'm big on political films, especially if they involve any kind of conspiracy, CIA, covert operations, etc. I like the fictional ride alongside the semi-non-fictional. This one, of course, was especially intriguing because I suppose I expected something new about this particular piece of history to be revealed.

Nothing new was really revealed. Except the depravity of human nature. Wait, that's not new either. Nothing new was really revealed. Don't worry, I'm not going to go into the torture issue. I don't know enough, haven't enough checked facts or vetted sources, to speak knowledgeably about the torture issue. I'm also - as horrid as it sounds - unsure of my exact stance on torture. So I'll leave torture out of this.

What I really want to talk about is THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY.

I was struck as we walked out of the theatre, where we sat for near 3 hours - our treats of warm cookies and ice cream and craft beer in front of us - that I had just paid quite a bit of money to go watch Americans do some really shitty things. This included several murders that made me devilishly satisfied. Like the author of this article, the "wrongness" of this whole picture didn't really surface until the film was over, and what we'd seen started sinking in.

As a political, war-time thriller, I really liked the movie. The dialogue was a bit Hollywood-ish at times, and there are way too many shots of Jessica Chastain's perplexed face for my taste, even though she has a nice face. Her "I'm a bad-ass" attitude sometimes rode the edge of stereotype, but I liked her and - for the most part - I appreciated her character. (I much preferred Jennifer Ehle's, though.) Like so many people have said before me, the final scenes of the raid on Osama's complex, are really brilliant. Kathryn Bigelow and her team have a knack for capturing that "you feel like you're really there," realistic vantage point during action scenes. I was shallow-breathing, just as much as I was during the Hurt Locker bomb dismantling scenes. I was glad they finally "got the bad guy." Some people applauded the film at the end. There were a couple of "whoops" when Osama got pegged. Nothing truly distasteful, or out of hand. I can't blame anyone, especially those who have veterans in the family or a personal connection to 9/11. But I think that left an impression on me as I walked away.

Without passing judgement, because I'm definitely the Pot here just as much as anyone, I'd like to point out that we pay money to go watch these things dramatized for our entertainment. We pay money to go watch ourselves torture and murder other people. By doing so, we become what the rest of the world hates about us. We're not any better than they are. We turn our dirty deeds into a billion dollar industry, and cheer when they make us feel like heroes.

For this reason, I hope Zero Dark Thirty doesn't win an Academy Award.

I can't support what it represents, no matter how much I enjoyed it as "entertainment."
Pot and Kettle, present, I know.

1 comment:

  1. No plans to see it, but I think you hit the nail right on the head with your review. There's nothing glamorous or enjoyable about this kind of stuff in real life.